February 15th, 2013
by Hazel Sillver
You don’t have to fly to India to find spiritual nourishment. Hazel Sillver rounds up 10 of the best places in the UK to achieve inner calm.
Yoga and nutrition in Sussex, 15-18 March
The Bloom Spring Retreat takes place at Brantridge Park in West Sussex. Enjoy daily yoga and chi kung classes, nutritional advice from Kirsten Chick and platefuls of nourishing, cleansing food. As well giving your mind and body a chance to unwind in the peace and quiet of the countryside, there will be a focus on how you can physically respond to the Spring Equinox.
07968 137246, www.hydrationandlight.co.uk
Zen meditation in Scotland, 4-7 April
This Monastic Spring Retreat is at Wiston Lodge, in the countryside south of Glasgow and Edinburgh. It will be led by monastics from Plum Village, who will guide participants in the teachings of their master, Thich Nhat Hanh. The focus will be on the Buddha’s lessons of impermanence, via the meditation practice of mindfulness, which can be done sitting or walking.
07736 889 165, www.mindfullivinguk.org
Christian sanctum in Scotland
There are no formal, led retreats at Pluscarden Abbey, but the friendly monks allow you to bask in the peace here and take part in their daily routine. You can attend services and Mass, receive spiritual counsel and enjoy the surrounding forest, hills and moorland, and you will be expected to muck in with the chores.
Buddhist meditation in Devon, 21-26 April
This six-day meditation retreat is an opportunity to immerseyourself in the Buddhist practice of mindful living. As well as seated meditation, there will be the opportunity to walk mindfully and work in the garden mindfully. There will be Buddhist teaching and one day will be spent in total silence.
01803 732661, www.sharphamtrust.org/The-Barn-Retreat
God and pudding in Leicestershire
Although this is a Christian community, all faiths are welcome to enjoy the peace of the 3 chapels and the 450 acres of parkland. You can do an individual retreat (which includes spiritual direction, if you wish) or a group retreat (such as the Gardening Holiday 1-5 April orPsalms retreat 15-19 April). Personally, I’d schedule my stay around 21 March or 25 April, when Launde will be hosting one of their Pudding Nights – a dinner of one savoury course and 6 puds.
01572 717254, www.laundeabbey.org.uk
Retreat from technology in Devon, 25-28 March
Phones off! Experience the bliss of going without digital technology (including mobile phones, internet and mp3 players) for four days. Make and write a journal and enjoy the peace of the countryside. On the final day, Satish Kumar (editor of Resurgence & The Ecologist) will lead a discussion on how digital technology affects the way we relate to the world.
01803 865934, www.schumachercollege.org.uk
Healing at Glastonbury springs, Somerset
The Vale of Avalon at Glastonbury has offered a peaceful sanctum to pilgrims for centuries. There are umpteen retreat centres here, but one of the loveliest places to stay is The Chalice Well (in the Lodge or Little St.Michael’s). However you must be a Companion of the Well (this is £19 and goes towards upkeep of the well).
01458 831154, www.chalicewell.org.uk
Comfort with St.Julian in Norwich
The anchoress St.Julianof Norwich was the first woman to pen a book in English, within which she describes the divine revelation that nobody is damned. Visitors wanting a quiet, reflective space can stay in All Hallows guesthouse, after visiting St. Julian’s church and shrine.
01603 624738, www.friendsofjulian.org
Bhakti yoga in Wales
Skanda Vale is a multi-faith ashram, based on the principles of Hinduism and actively practicing Bhakti (devotional) yoga. Six pujas are held daily at the three temples here and visitors (staying longer than a day) are expected to remain in the grounds of the ashram and do four hours of work a day (such as cleaning or gardening).
01559 384421, www.skandavale.org
Qi gong in Devon, 15-20 March
This silent retreat will focus on the art of mindfulness (dwelling in the present moment) via sitting meditation and the graceful movements of qi gong. It will take place at Gaia House, which is nestled within the woodland and hills of south Devon. Beginners and experienced qi gong practitioners are welcome.
01364 644040, www.qigong-southwest.co.uk
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